Near-Maximal training: Do it.
My preferred ways to lift really heavy over a long period of time and make gains are to either:
1) cycle your percentages and progress in the same exercise with heavier and heavier weights. This is what I do now. Here is an example
Squat max @ 425
week 1@85%-90% 360-385
week 2@90%-95% 385-405
week 3@95%-100% 405-425
week 4: deload @ 60-75%
I generally do the lighter 85-90-95 and might go up and hit 100 on week 3 if I'm feeling good. If successful, add ten pounds to the max and repeat the cycle.
This is basically Wendler's 5-3-1 verbatim. I use it to set up my weight progression, but run my workouts a bit differently based on what I know of myself, which means I like a little more volume and sometimes do multiple sets with the top weight, or work up to the top weight quickly, then do back off sets with 5% less weight, i.e, set 1: 85%x1, set 2: 95%x1, set 3: 90%x1-2
2)The other option is a little more like Westside, in that you are going really heavy, between 90-100% each week and so you rotate your exercises. This rotation is something I use more often with my assistance work, though I sometimes go a bit lighter and shoot for higher reps.
Progression might look something like this:
week 1: Squat: work up to 95% of max: 405x2reps
week 2: Squat: work up to new max: 405x3 or 410x2
week 3: Front squat: work up to 95% of max: 305x2
week 4: Front squat: work up to new max: 310x2 or 305x3
You can deload after week 2 or 4. You could then go to box squats or return to squats in week 6.
The other way to rotate would be something like this:
week 1: Deadlifts
week 2: Good Mornings
week 3: Rack Pulls
Week 4: Deadlifts
Week 5: Good Mornings
Week 6: Rack Pulls
Work up to a 1,2, or 3RM in weeks 1,2,3 then beat those RMs in weeks 4,5,6. Also, you can deload after week 3, or deload after weeks 2 and 4 (probably better).
The other crucial thing to do is to pick the best exercises for you, the ones that have the best carryover. For example, if you plan to rotate squats, it's better to do something like box squats, pause squats, good mornings, and front squats as opposed to lunges and leg presses.
I hope this helps. I personally prefer the first manner of progression, but when I was younger (19) I had real problems with focus if I did the same workout week in and week out and so rotated exercises to avoid getting stale. This was more mental than anything. But, if you can effectively choose the best exercises, then rotate them often enough to keep from getting stale, and yet perform them often enough to keep progression alive, then by all means try method 2.
Last edited by cooltom; 05-28-2010 at 08:14 PM.